Now Reading: The Washington Post, paywalls, digital journalism, Marvin Miller, Fireman Ed

‘Now Reading’ is a collection and sharing of online stories and is meant for minimal consumption by the few readers of this blog. Topics will include books, food, matters of culture, photography, media and technology … there are no rules. Have a story to add? Share it in the comments.

The Washington Post’s last digital hope

The Columbia Journalism Review has an interesting look at The Washington Post and its need to construct a paywall in order to save what will be (and perhaps soon) a shriveling newsroom. The Post has stuck by the “digital free” model, hoping a growth in digital ad revenue will balance the loss in print ad revenue, which the CJR says has been declining at a double-digit rate for six years. The problem is that digital ad revenues have remained flat, and there are no signs that will change (at least change enough to support this business model). The New York Times, among other publications, have done well by adopting the paywall as a vital revenue stream (and, ironically, advertisers have proven willing to pay more to place their pitches on paid content).

There’s an interesting stigma around paid content online, presumably because the Internet has always been this wild and free place where people roam and rip off content all of kinds. But what I don’t understand is that we don’t seem to question the idea of paying for paper dropped in our driveways, of paying for magazines to gather dust on coffee tables. So why would we not pay a small fee for news/content we value online? I’m still a sucker for books in paper, but I’m quickly becoming a devout digital magazine subscriber. No ink, no issues piling up, a beautiful display on tablets, access to the product a few days earlier than it usually arrives via mail … there are few drawbacks to going all digital there.

So it seems to me that charging for online content is an easy decision. The interesting thing to me is how media outlets will adjust (and vary) their content offerings after going premium, knowing that there are many readily available free outlets for getting news.

What should be included behind a paywall?

From the Nieman Journalism Lab, a look at how to build the best paywall and “membership package” to drive reader revenue. OK, we’re done talking about paywalls.

The future is on the 28th floor of NYT Co. building

There is some really ingenious and innovated work being done on the 28th floor of the New York Times building in midtown Manhattan, as written about in this Ad Week piece. That is where the NYT’s R&D Lab is located, with a team of technologists and developers devoted to creating the next great digital product for the company. One project that seems to have gained some traction is one that could potentially provide a solution to the stagnant digital ad revenues by marrying brands with related content much more efficiently. We’ll see. The cool thing is that the NYT Co. will end up developing some great products that reshape how we digital journalism is done, because of the power of the brand and its resources and the commitment to the project – the NYT Co. knows it will lose some money in the development stages but believes, ultimately, it will make that up in revenue down the line.

What about companies not nearly as affluent or influential as NYT Co.? Yeah, I’m not sure what those papers do when they don’t have the staff or resources required to build a lab devoted to creating the future of newspaper content. Are they bought out? Do they plug their holes with some version of a premium content model? Do they embrace digital video pitch a New Media approach to sponsors? All of the above?

Rest in peace, Marvin Miller

It’s a sad day in the baseball world, as Marvin Miller passed away at 95. If you’re a young fan, you likely have little knowledge of everything Miller accomplished not just for baseball, but for professional sports. Miller was the originator of baseball’s first official players’ union. He led the creation of baseball’s first collective bargaining agreement, using his experiences working on the National War Labor Board in the ‘40s and United Steelworkers Union in the ‘50s to carve out rights for baseball players. He got players the right to arbitration. He fought the “reserve clause” – a provision that essentially gave owners unlimited one-year club options on players and prevented players from having any control over where they played or what they earned – and established the foundation of free agency as we know it today. He ushered in million-dollar contracts for players as clubs began profiting from television rights. And, of course, there is so, so much more to his legacy than that, but those are the pillars that he will be remembered for. This NYT obit is a good combination of what the man accomplished and who the man was.

Fireman Ed steps down from being Fireman Ed

Jets superfan Fireman Ed is stepping down as, uh, Jets superfan Fireman Ed. This story is ridiculous – that a fan wrote a column in a free newspaper, genuinely feeling that he needed to step down from his post as somebody who leads cheers in public – but the Jets are also ridiculous in many ways, so it fits. I’m mentioning it only because this column by Ben Shipgel is superb and funny as hell.

Don’t try this at college, kids

An on-campus ecstasy lab? What the …

Email: tmitrosilis@gmail.com Twitter: @TMitrosilis

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